Unleashing new pet health care pawsibilities

DARTMOUTH — It’s hard to imagine how busy the Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth can get from the outside.

“This is typical. Actually, this time of the year tends to be slower,” said Dr. Nuno Carreiro, an Azorean-born veterinarian who recently joined the hospital staff. “It tends to be busier in the summer when pets are more active and likely to get into trouble and we also have visitors to the area.”

On Tuesday morning, while doctors were tending to a very sick pug in the surgical suite, several dogs and cats were waiting in the kennel for their turn to undergo a wide range of procedures. All three examining rooms were occupied with patients and there were more pets in the waiting room.

Dr. Carreiro said that there has been increasing demand for animal care in recent years as pets are living longer and their healthcare needs are evolving.

“When our pets get older, they begin to suffer some of the diseases that humans suffer. We’re treating a lot of cancer in pets and doing more chemotherapy,” he said. “Our pets are members of our family and it is only natural to want the best care possible for them.”

While the five doctors on staff see mostly dogs and cats, they also provide services to small pets, such as ferrets, rodents, rabbits and birds.

“We all have our interests and this makes for a stronger practice,” said Dr. Carreiro, a 2007 graduate from Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine who practiced in the state of Virginia until returning to Fall River last year to “rejoin the community he grew up in” after emigrating from Lagoa, S. Miguel, at age 10.

The hospital offers an onsite laboratory, x-ray and ultrasound rooms, a pharmacy and dentistry services. To keep up with innovations in diagnostics and treatment, the members of the staff attend conferences on a routine basis.

“Pet healthcare is really evolving,” said Dr. Carreiro, adding that today’s veterinary professionals have at their disposal progressive technology and tools to make more accurate diagnoses and better treatment plans.

In addition to preventative, urgent and surgical care, the hospital also provides alternative treatments. Dr. Kate Pietsch, who in 2011 purchased the hospital from her father, Dr. Gerald Pietsch, offers acupuncture and laser therapy services.

“As pets live longer, their quality of life may decrease due to issues like arthritis,” she said. “My passion is pain management… to help keep them healthier and comfortable.”

Dr. Pietsch is now able to treat spinal cord injuries, disc disease, gastrointestinal disorders, nerve disease, urinary incontinence, arthritis, and oncology pain and more ailments with medical acupuncture.

“Years ago, we might have had to euthanize pets for discomfort, but now we are able to give them quality of life so many more years,” said Dr. Pietsch.

But when and if needed, the hospital also provides end-of-life care.

“That’s where we’re different from the human field, as we believe in euthanizing,” said Dr. Carreiro. “It’s never an easy choice, but we try to make it as smooth as possible. It’s always a team effort between the vet, the pet owner and the pet.”
The hospital also works closely with local animal control and shelters.

Just last week, Dr. Carreiro operated on Licorice, a 15-month old dog from the Portuguese breed Cão de Fila de S. Miguel that was hit by a car and brought into the hospital by animal control.

“His leg was pretty bad and needed to be amputated,” said Dr. Carreiro. “He’s been with us ever since and he is doing really well.”

Licorice now spends his days behind the front desk, stealing the affection of both staff members and patrons. His nights are spent in the hospital’s kennel.

While the hospital has donated some of the services provided to Licorice, his care has also been supported by donations and the help of good Samaritans, Dr. Carreiro said.

“There’s been an outpouring of community support. He even has a facebook page (everybodyloveslicorice),” he said. “We’re working on getting him adopted and finding him a home.”

While Dr. Carreiro recognizes that pet healthcare can be expensive, he said that nowadays there are a lot more choices available to pet owners.

“A lot of the costs are related to just doing business. Healthcare is much better than 20 years ago and tends to be more specialized because the demand is there, but at the same time we need highly trained staff and equipment can be very costly,” he said. “Insurance coverage is becoming more and more popular among pet owners.”

Those not covered by insurance, can always opt for a “care credit” payment option, Dr. Carreiro said. With this option, pet owners can apply for credit and then pay installments to a third party.

The hospital has been accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) since 1980. In addition to Dr. Carreiro, the front desk supervisor and the hospital assistant also speak Portuguese fluently.

Located at 750 State Road, Dartmouth, the hospital is open Monday to Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., on Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, please call 508-996-3731.

This article originally appeared in OJORNAL on Jan 10, 2014 – see original article here